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VV Brown
Travelling Like The Light AP Childs , July 17th, 2009 11:39

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I had the pleasure of briefly meeting VV Brown last winter. She stood tall and proud in the courtyard of North London muso hangout The Boogaloo after opening for a one-off New Seekers show, of all things. Unfortunately, our encounter was brief. VV, real name Vanessa, made a sharp exit after being approached by the New Seekers' manager Nic Culverwell, who suggested it would be a fab idea if VV join his Seekers on stage for their finale. Sadly, out of the door did our VV bowl.

Travelling Like The Light opens with the thunderous doo-wop infused and happy clappy 'Quick Fix', one of the best songs to reference an asthma attack in quite some time. Unfortunately, second track 'Game Over' is almost aptly named, a downward tune about a broken relationship that's utterly at odds with the current single, 'Shark In The Water', that follows it. Here, Brown's vocal is a beaut, and could soothe the soul of a rum-soaked sea salt marooned on the harshest rock without a drink.

But yet again, the pace drops. 'Leave!' and 'Bottles', excepting VV's obvious vocal excellence, disappoint. Debut single 'Crying Blood' stands out as another shaker, while 'Back In Time' is a beautifully rendered ode to doomed love. Sad but sparkling, it's built on a moody descending chord structure that's further enhanced with synthy strikes. The title track rounds things off with a reassuring gloss that yet again confirms that this album's key strength is Brown's soul/Motown-inflected voice.

But has this voice been let down by an album that could have been so much better? Travelling Like The Light is scuppered by its relentless changes in style, which suggest label meddling – perhaps Island are hedging their bets in a scene currently over-populated with Great Female Pop Hopes. An artist of VV Brown's power deserves to have risks taken around her, and just as she could have conquered the Boogaloo stage if she'd got up with pop pensioners The New Seekers, the ball is fumbled here. Debut albums are about smashing down the doors, but unfortunately Travelling Like The Light does nothing more than knock politely.

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